If you have never heard of MadCAAP (Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty) perhaps you should perform a search online and read about this 501c(3) organization located in Canton.
MadCAAP’s Development Director, Deborah Edmonson, invited me some time ago to teach a writing course to some of the people who depend on the organization’s services and require such classes to qualify for credit and assistance. I willingly agreed, not really quite sure what to expect.
What I got was a lesson. A better one I’m sure than the one I presented for an hour to my lively and inquisitive class.
There will be a much longer, separate article on MadCAAP and their many worthwhile endeavors soon. As a brief introduction, however, the organization provides food, clothing, housing and emergency assistance to the poor in Madison County.
Unfortunately, their client list is not a short one.
While the class I taught last Monday night consisted of what some in society would condescendingly look down upon as “poor,” I found my students to be rich people in their personalities, questions and in the interest in what I had to say. Babbling on as I do about a subject I love—writing—I saw interest in the eyes of my class and got a thrill when heads would nod.
These people I was talking to need a break. Sometimes we all do and might in the future. It’s a dicey world out there today and 2008 proved we all are on a potential precipice. The fact that my students (as a would-be teacher I love using that term!) were there in that class trying to better themselves was inspiring. They are taking steps to improve their lots in life—even by listening to a talk by a guy like me.
I hope I provided some good information and helpful tips to the class. I was told I did. While getting across some professional pointers—such as on resume writing and proper inquiries for jobs—I also stressed the importance of keeping journals to retain your sanity; that sometimes simply letting your thoughts flow on paper—anger, joy, frustration…anything—could lift one’s spirits and bring pride in accomplishment of actually performing the writing in the first place.
I told the class to find and use their own voice and not worry about how “good” they could write—not at first. The journey of a thousand miles indeed starts with one step and I hope I gave this class the impetus and inspiration to take that first move forward.
No, I didn’t know what to expect when asked to teach this class at MadCAAP. But I can’t wait for our second session because not only do I believe I made a small difference in the lives of a few people who really need it—I KNOW that they made an impression on me and made me feel as if my love of writing could help others.
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